motor representation -> experience of action -> thought
In something like the way experience may tie thoughts about seen objects to the representations
involved in visual processes, so also it is experience that connects what is represented
motorically to the objects of thought.
This may matter for understanding thought about action. On the face of it, the inferential
isolation of thought from motor representation makes it reasonable to assume that an account of
how humans think about actions would not depend on facts about motor representation at all. But
the discovery that motor representations sometimes shape experiences revelatory of action
justifies reconsidering this assumption. It is plausible that people sometimes have reasons for
thoughts about actions, their own or others', that they would not have if it were not for their
abilities to represent these actions motorically. To go beyond what we have considered here, it
may even turn out that an ability to think about certain types of actions depends on an ability
to represent them motorically.
One consequence of our proposal concerns how experiences of one's own actions relate to
experiences of others' actions. For almost any action, performing it would typically involve
receiving perceptual information quite different to that involved in observing it. This may
suggest that experiences involved in performing a particular action need have nothing in common
with experiences involved in observing that action. However, two facts about motor
representation, its double life and the way it shapes experience, jointly indicate otherwise. For
actions directed to those goals that can be revealed by experiences shaped by motor
representations, there are plausibly aspects of phenomenal character common to experiences
revelatory of one's own and of others' actions. In some respects, what you experience when others
act is what you experience when you yourself act.